Joe McPhee's Survival Unit III with Evan Parker: London, England, March 23, 2012
Highlights abounded and included a lovely foray for McPhee's spluttering, expressionistic pocket trumpet pitched against the drummer's rumbling toms. As the accompaniment morphed into Lonberg-Holm's abrasive bowing, the horn man burst into an astonishing slithering, circular-breathed litany of squeals, exhalations, whistles and flutters. Later in the second piece of the first set, tenor and trumpet braided, phrasing loosely in unison, then in an enthralling caterwauling dog fight.
Fred Lonberg-Holm and Evan Parker
Whether by design or intent, the second set featured a series of solo spots which emerged from the flow. Parker was in full spate on soprano, his trademark unbroken patterns snaking through the air, until gradually the others stilled and left him unaccompanied for a fantastic extravaganza which sent overtones whizzing around the room. Later McPhee exploited an interlude for a wonderful passage of a cappella soprano during which he sang through his horn as he played, a separate line vocalized in contrast to the squeaks and fractured harmonics, packing an emotional charge which made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.
It was a superb evening as four masters showed what could be achieved with big ears, quick reactions and inspired choices in an egalitarian ensemble ethos. One of the finest gigs of the year to date.
All Photos: John Sharpe